Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Best Friend, the Terrorist

Source

My buddy works for the government.  He recently transferred to a different location and needs to get top secret clearance so that he can work with classified information.  A while back, he asked if I would act as a reference for him, and of course I obliged.

So I was not surprised when an investigator called me, inquiring if he could meet me to discuss my relationship with my friend.  He told me that he was under a tight deadline, needed to meet the next day, and would travel wherever to make it easier on me.

"Wherever and whenever is easiest for you," he told me.

I was going to be traveling north the next morning for the wedding, and needed to make a stop in my parents' hometown to pick up my tuxedo.

He was stationed the next town over from my parents, so I suggested that we meet at the Starbucks next to the Men's Warehouse.

"Actually, it would be better if we could meet at your parents' house," he told me.  "That way, we don't have to stop talking if someone sits next to us if we are in a public place."

I wondered what he actually meant by "wherever and whenever is easiest for me," but I agreed and drove the extra ten minutes to my parents' house after picking up my tux.

When I pulled up to the house, he was waiting for me in the driveway.  I typed in the code to get into the house through the garage, and as we walked into the house, I explained to him that my parents were away for the summer.

We sat down and exchanged pleasantries about the heat and the weather.  He asked about the wedding and offered his condolences that I would have to stand outside in the heat in a tuxedo.  He had a booming voice and a hearty chuckle, which signified that he was a jolly man.  If he packed on a few more pounds and if his beard was longer and whiter, I wouldn't be surprised if I was being interviewed by Santa Claus himself.

But then he got down to business.  He pulled out his badge, forcing me to look at it, admire it.  Then he explained that under such-and-such law, our conversation was going to be completely confidential.

Leaning forward, he lowered his voice to a near-whisper: "So how long have you known David?"

I was taken aback by his sudden shift to clandestine behavior, as I had made him well-aware that it was just the two of us in the house.  Perhaps he was fearful that the house was bugged.

"I've known him since we were in preschool," I replied conspiratorially, "so I guess twenty-one or twenty-two years."

"And in that time, have you known David to be a trustworthy guy?"

It went on and on in this manner, with him asking about Dave's patriotism, financial status, and emotional stability.

And with each of the questions, I gave the perfect answer, rendering Dave into not only the perfect American, but the perfect person.  Somewhere in there, I even said that Dave was "pretty much the best guy that I know."

Even though all of it was true, I began to grow concerned that I was making Dave look too good.  Surely, a guy this good couldn't exist, couldn't be real.  And any investigator worth his salt could see right through it.

So I began to look for an opportunity to sprinkle in something negative about my best friend.  Just a little something to make it more believable that Dave was really such a great guy (even though he totally was) and not a cyborg-terrorist-robot.

But the opportunity never came.  We had already gotten through the easy stuff that I could have thrown in a quip like "the only thing he failed in college was with women" when asked about his college experiences.

We were now at the intense stuff, and the time for joking had passed. 

For example: when asked,

"Do you have any reason to believe that Dave would want to join a terrorist organization?"

it is a bad idea to lead off with

"Well, it's funny you should ask that question..."

But with each of these questions, I stared right back at the investigator and said with  absolute seriousness and perfect clarity that he was not a terrorist.

And that is when I realized that maybe I had it all wrong.  Maybe Dave had trained and coached me to answer these questions to paint him in the most positive light.

For the past twenty-two years, he had been fooling me, shaping me for this very moment.  For me to tell this Santa Claus investigator exactly what he wanted to hear so that he could get his government clearance. 

The fact that I was unable to come up with a single example of him being corrupt or immoral was probably indicative that he was a terrorist.

There he is, pretending to be a dinosaur.  And
there I am, naively following in his footsteps as
he plots our country's demise.  Sure, it was a
parade, but take note of the symbolism anyway.
As just a four-year-old, Dave had begun his infiltration into society at St. Matthew Nursery School.  And it was there that he found me, a gullible and easily manipulated kid, who he continued to dupe for the next two decades with charades of friendliness and compassion.

And as the investigator continued with his questions, I began to question everything about my friend, and a million memories came flooding to me at once, like at the end of the movie when the mystery is suddenly solved.

I recalled, vaguely, that it took him quite a long time to memorize the words to The Pledge of Allegiance.  At first, I thought it was the fact that he was, you know, just a first-grader.  But the more I considered it, the more I realized that it was just his own resistance to conform to a society he hated.

I also remembered in third grade when he embezzled money.  There was a penny on the ground and he totally picked it up and put it into his pocket without turning it in to the proper authorities.

In middle school, we took a field trip to Washington D.C. and as our tour made it to Pennsylvania Avenue, I recall Dave kicking a rock.  If my memory serves, he kicked it directly towards the White House.

As all of these memories came flooding back to me, I wondered who was this guy?  And that is when I remembered the most damning piece of evidence against Dave.

His birthday is September 11th.

The investigator closed his notebook with a snap and I was awakened from my daydream.  "Well, it seems like David seems to be a pretty great guy," he said, returning his voice to its original bravado.

"Y-yea..." I said.

"I want to thank you for your time," he said, standing up and walking towards the door.  "I know that you have a busy schedule with the wedding and all, and I know that you had to come out of your way."

As he walked down my parents' driveway, I wanted to yell to him.  To tell him that I had made a grave error, and that I barely knew my friend at all. 

But I couldn't open my mouth.  Something in my brain kept it shut.  And the investigator drove away, thinking that Dave was a true American patriot.

I ran upstairs and looked at myself in the mirror.

"Dave is a baaa-" I said to myself.  "Dave is a baaaaaaa-"

I couldn't get the words "bad guy" out.

"Dave is a baaaaaaa-" I tried again.

It was frustrating.  Twenty-two years of Dave's mind control had completely disabled me from speaking ill of him.

"Dave is the nicest guy I know," I said with a genuine smile.

-Youngman Brown


56 comments:

  1. Well, here I was hoping I'd be the best guy you'd ever met... drat second place again!

    I actually worked for a company that did background investigations and as one of the IT folks who had to make the technology go, I had to go through 2 weeks of training to ask the right questions, recite various oaths, flash badges, etc. The voice change is classic, by lowering his voice he made you feel that you were telling secrets and thus you'd feel comfortable doing likewise.

    He may have even had to resort to the stare. I could never pull off the stare. I imagine with your background, you could probably pull it off. Basically the stare is asking a question and even after the answer has been given, allow an uncomfortable silence while looking at the victim, err interviewee.

    Glad you survived... WG

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    1. Yea there was definitely a significant change in his demeanor which caught me off-guard.

      Thanks, I am glad I survived too.

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  2. Oh, I loved this post.

    My husband has a security clearance, and I was questioned at one point about him. I told the agent that Tim was an awesome person, and an upstanding citizen. Then the agent said, "You do know I am here from the insurance company to check his health so he can be approved for long-term disability insurance, right?" Yeah, I was giving the wrong information to the wrong agent.

    best,
    MOV

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    1. It is still nice that you talked him up so well!

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  3. What a great, well-written story. You had me from start to finish, as usual.

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    1. Thanks very much. Coming from you, that means a lot :)

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  4. Talk about mind control!! I mean, how could you forget about that rock kicked towards the white house or his brain block against the pledge of allegience!! It's clearly where YOUR loyalty lyes, Youngman. Hmph!

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  5. Thanks for a great read this morning. Loved this story!! A sweet and humorous look at a long time male friendship!

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  6. Twice I had the FBI show up at my apartment to ask me "some questions" about a friend who needed a security clearance, and both times I was high. It was pretty surreal. Especially the second one, since the subject's brother had been caught selling a quarter pound of weed and they really wanted to discuss marijuana habits.

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  7. If anyone is a terrorist, it's your mother, for dressing you the way she did. Raggedy Andy? That's a crime against all sorts of shit.

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    1. Aw leave my mom out of this. Although, I do look kinda unhappy in the pictures.

      Delete
  8. Here's something scary: Dr. X used to have security clearance to work at a government lab. You probably haven't read my blog enough to know that Dr. X is bat shit crazy.

    Love,
    Lola

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    1. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up soon, though!

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  9. I can always count on Uncle Mike for my morning smile! Great story!

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  10. Although I agree that those dastardly deeds at his young age could add up to quite the nefarious personality, at least you can feel secure that you did not completely ruin his life like Sheldon did to Howard.

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  11. Great post...so much for complete confidentially thought, not like thousands of people read your blog or anything LOL

    I had a similar situation with my best friend and had to meet with an investigator at a neutral place, blah, blah, blah.

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    1. Haha I don't know if it is thousands necessarily. But I got him to proofread it before posting it and he gave me the green light.

      And I changed his name, too.

      Delete
  12. You two guys are so damn cute I want to squeeze your little cheeks (on your face mind you). But you are right, dinosaurs do tend to be bad boys.

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    1. Yea, we were pretty cute.

      Though I must say that this was probably one of the least-cute pictures that exist of me.

      Delete
  13. You know when he goes down, you'll be going down too as his accomplice, right?

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  14. What have you done?

    'Dave' is the type of typical, common, American persona that a terrorist would strive for! How could you trust a man who refers to himself as 'Dave' without it arousing at least a little bit of suspicion?

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    1. Sorry, we can't all have an awesome name like "Chiz"

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  15. This one cracked me up so hard. When you said he kicked a rock in the direction of the White House I almost spit up udon noodles. As I'm counting calories and need every udon noodle, I am glad I was able to keep it in.

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    1. I have a tendency to make women spit up their food.

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  16. I don't know if I loved the pictures more or the actual post.

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    1. Thanks, Kaytlynn.

      I actually drove 40 minutes to my parents house the other day with the sole intention of finding pictures of us when we were kids.

      You're welcome, blogosphere.

      Delete
  17. This is one of my favorite, all-time posts of yours. Just perfection.

    Thank goodness the investigator didn't want to meet you at the wedding...all that nipple rubbing would have been highly suspect!

    ps. I was Raggedy Ann one year...I probably was much happier about my costume than you were about yours!

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    1. Perfection? Thanks so much!

      And high-five for Raggedy Ann!

      Delete
  18. My neighbor works with the secret service. I had a "surprise" interview one day when an investigator pulled into my driveway while I was outside with my kids and started grilling me with questions about my neighbor's "activities." Since I don't know my neighbor well, and can hardly see his house from my property, I couldn't give very much info, and most of my answers consisted of "I don't know." After the 5th or 6th I don't know, I started worrying that he thought I was evading answering his questions and he was going to start getting suspiciious that I knew the neighbor was a terrorist or something. Which I don't. As far as he knows.

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    1. Wow, that is crazy. I think I would want to move if the FBI came to ask me questions about my neighbors.

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  19. I am pimping this EVERYWHERE! Why? Because I have next to NO time to read blogs anymore but am pushing to read as many as possible and this is one of the only blogs I NEVER regret making the time for.

    Another great post. The whole time you were trying to eek out the word "bad" I was thinking of Jim Carey in liar liar trying to write "this pen is blue". haha.

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, as well as the pimping you did for me tonight.

      Delete
  20. Have you checked your place for bugs? If Dave is really as diabolically clever as you assume he'll have bugged your house.

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  21. Reading this I was torn between fear that someone might take you seriously and fascination over your cleverness. I'm a wee bit jealous...

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    1. Aw you are sweet.

      Hopefully nobody will take me seriously. They rarely do.

      Delete
  22. You could so do a follow up for this! A thriller about the friendship with the guy and how you get tied up in his evil plots and stuff. It could be really good :) I'll do it if you can't be bothered!
    M. x

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    1. I would. But I fear that I've already said too much.

      Delete
  23. Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover!

    I bet the FBI is keeping full tabs on this blog, following your every move! lol But seriously....they just might be here, lurking!

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  24. That bloody terrorist!! Look at him smiling all smug-like in that last pic! He's thinking to himself, 'Yeah I got this li'l American white bread under my fucking thumb.'

    And yes he cursed. Because everyone knows that terrorists come out of the womb fucking cursing.

    What?

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  25. The idea of you leaning over to tensely whisper, "I've known him since pre-school," will have me in giggles all day long, I just know it. :-D
    Some Dark Romantic

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  26. Oh wow. That's one of the best things I've read tonight.

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  27. Oh wow. That's one of the best things I've read tonight.

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  28. Oh wow. That's one of the best things I've read tonight.

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  29. You are too damn cute in those old school pictures. Loving the costumes.

    Thanks to my wicked/sarcastic sense of humor and dodgy answers during my interview, I never thought The Husband would pass his background check and get hired. You are a much better interviewer than I was! LOL

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  30. Best start working on the alibi...

    Shits about to get real now that he is in

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  31. Those pictures of you and David are so damn adorable. Were you Ragdey Andy? Did he ever get the job?

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  32. Here I was, thinking what a horrible person Dave is with his terrorist ways. But then, I saw that 2nd picture of you two... And I saw your gang sign. Suddenly I'm worried about associating myself with you... (seriously, what are you doing with your hand??).

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  33. That's a danger of being close, getting brain washed. Oh well, you've got the memories and this cool, cool story.

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